Today I welcome author Sheala Vast-Binder to my blog.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I always have a hard time answering the “Where did you grow up?” question (the “where were you born” one is a little easier). I was born in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida as a military brat. Although we moved numerous times before I was 10, none of our moves were overseas. However, we moved all across the southern part of the U.S.
Although I didn’t like moving as a child (I was an only child and it was lonely), I credit much of my love for Internationals and cultural learning to this experience. I love meeting new people, eating different foods, and traveling to diverse places! Even as an adult, I have moved numerous times and travelled a lot because my extended family is scattered around the U.S. My family currently lives in St. Louis, MO, but since traveling, moving, and trying new things seems to be in my DNA, who knows where we’ll go next? I like the saying, “Home is where you hang your hat!”
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure that I’ve ever considered myself a writer! This is rather ironic since I’ve been writing for a long time. I worked for a publishing house for numerous years, both in-house and as a freelancer. When I joined the non-profit world, I quickly became a grant writer since its “write or die” when you work for a NPO.
However, “10 Things You Need to Know” is the first book that I’ve written so maybe that’s why I hesitate to call myself a writer. That sounds way more impressive than I feel! Perhaps after I write several more books I’ll feel like a “real” writer, or maybe not. Time will tell, won’t it?
Do you write full-time?
I am not a full-time writer, which is probably another reason why I don’t feel like a “real” writer. I’m the director of St. Louis Global Friends, a program that promotes cross-cultural friendships while providing resources for internationals. My writing is a part of that bigger picture.
However, I must say that I LOVED writing this book! Creating it sparked numerous other book ideas, including exploring quirky American traditions and explaining some of the hidden rules of our middle class (and, yes, there are a lot of them). Nevertheless, whatever I write will focus on my passion for befriending and empowering as many internationals as I can.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for “10 Things You Need to Know” came from the numerous struggles that I’ve witnessed international friends encounter over the years. Having moved so often myself, I know how hard it is to adjust and learn all of the things that you need to know. Finding a good car, renting an apartment, or just buying groceries can be intimidating in a new setting. I wrote this book to make moving to the U.S. just a little easier for internationals.
Because the book cannot cover all of the questions a newcomer might ask, I also maintain a blog and weekly digest centered around cultural questions and learning. Readers can find both at www.shealavastbinder.info.
How did you come up with the title?
Creating a good title has never been my forte so when it came to naming this book I turned where everyone turns…to my Facebook friends! I created seven titles and subtitles then asked people to vote. I allowed voters to mix and match the titles and subtitles as they wished. I also gave them the freedom to suggest new titles.
The hilarious thing is that I didn’t go with the title for which the majority voted! The title with the most votes was, “Transition with Ease: A Guide for Internationals Moving to the U.S.” However, I had one international friend who made such a good argument for the current title that I went with her suggestion! It probably helped that having a number in the title is considered a plus (from the marketing side) and that my husband liked this title as well. Nonetheless, it was a close call!
What book are you reading right now?
Since I LOVE to read, I have several books in the works right now. I’m currently reviewing a fictional mystery for another author (who needs to remain unnamed). I’m reading “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp for a book study that I joined this summer. I’m attempting to read “The Bhagavad Gita for Beginners,” although I’m finding it difficult (which is pretty sad since it IS for beginners). I occasionally pick up Craig Storti’s “Americans at Work: A Guide to the Can-Do people.” And I have Cecelia Ahern’s book, “Thanks for the Memories,” checked out from the library, desperately calling my name. (I’ve read many of her books this summer; she’s fabulous!)
I like to read almost anything clean, funny, romantic, or optimistic. I love mysteries, sci-fi, and fantasy—adult, youth, and juvenile. I also enjoy Christian theology and most things related to the faith of other people. I’m a true bookworm and have been for as long as I can remember!
However, moving away from your homeland is beyond difficult. Relocating to another country is one of the hardest things a person can do. Learning another language. Connecting to a new community. Adapting to an unfamiliar culture. Putting down roots can often take years, but this book will guide you through the transition.
“10 Things You Need to Know” is designed to offer support during the in-between time, the interval between leaving your home country and when you’ve adjusted to a new life in the U.S. In this practical guide, you’ll find helpful information about the type of clothes you need, transportation options, visiting an American home, and more! All ten themes are inspired by the author’s personal experiences and those of her many International friends.
You don’t have to take this huge step alone. Let the knowledge of others remove unnecessary anxiety and make your move easier.
Welcome to the U.S.A.!
About the Author
Sheala has an M.A. in Religion with a concentration in World Religions. Over the years, she has worked as a college campus minister, Christian writer and editor, grant researcher and writer, media specialist, social services program coordinator, and non-profit director.
Currently, Sheala is the director of St. Louis (STL) Global Friends, a program of iFACE Ministries. Our mission is to support International friendship and cross-cultural exchange.
Sheala’s passion is to build bridges between people of different cultures, meet the practical needs of Internationals, and explore issues of faith and life in community with others.
Sheala enjoys reading, traveling, and relaxing with her family and friends. She lives in St Louis with her husband and son.